Lowell holds off on town administrator decision

2013-12-08T20:30:00Z 2013-12-08T22:25:19Z Lowell holds off on town administrator decisionMelanie Csepiga Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
December 08, 2013 8:30 pm  • 

LOWELL | Lowell was one of the first communities in Northwest Indiana to hire a town manager when the position was sanctioned in the early 1980s.

James Mandon, the current town engineer for Munster, was Lowell's first town manager.

But the Town Council has more recently adopted a wait-and-see attitude as Lowell Town Administrator Sue Peterson nears retirement at the end of the year.

The only decision made since Peterson's announcement in August has been to designate the division of her duties until a more permanent decision is made.

"We've talked a little about it," said council President Edgar Corns, R-5th.

Since its first incarnation as town manager, the position morphed into director of administration in 1998 with a reduction in the scope of authority.

Sue Peterson stepped into that job on an interim basis after Rick Dal Corobbo, who held the position, died. She had been his assistant.

After an interim stint from 2002 to 2003, Peterson was retained as town administrator with more changes to the job description.

By then, Peterson said, Greg Shook had come on board as Lowell public works director, so authority and responsibilities were divided between them.

"We do all the hiring and firing," Peterson said. "Greg and I work so well together."

Councilman Phillip Kuiper, D-4th, said Shook will take over the day-to-day duties.

"The rest will be split up (among Town Hall staffers) ... until we make a decision," he said. "We've talked about it at length, and we have this decision for the time being."

With recent annexations, the Lowell Town Council has been positioning the town for more growth and has even retained Mandon as a consultant.

In Cedar Lake, the administrative position has evolved as the town's growth burgeoned. Ian Nicolini, who had served as town administrator since 2008, was named town manager last year in part in response to growth.

Kuiper said there has been only a town administrator in Lowell since he came on board 11 years ago, he said. If Shook accepts more responsibility, he should be compensated accordingly, he said.

Lowell Clerk-Treasurer Judy Walters said the town's move away from a town manager was more a result of being burned by a bad experience with former Town Manager Terry Short, who preceded Dal Corobbo, than opposition to a town manager's role.

Peterson said she has committed to continue her roles with the Lowell Labor Day Parade Committee and Rebuilding Together, both of which are important to her.

Walters said she will be compensated for those.

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